Fulfilling Basic Needs

All of us, including Seniors, have 6 basic human needs. Anthony Robbins, a life coach, describes them as follows:


  1. Certainty: to be comfortable and have some level of consistency.
  2. Uncertainty: we need variety and change to feel alive.
  3. Significance: the need to feel unique, special and important.
  4. Love and connection: we need to give and receive affection and support from others.
  5. Growth: to become more.
  6. Contribution: to give beyond ourselves.



These needs don’t diminish as we grow older.  We still need certainty—we want to have predictability and make

our own decisions.  We also need uncertainty—spontaneous activities and things to do that keep our interest. We need significance—to be treated with respect and dignity.  We need love and connection—our families and friends need to spend time with us and show that they care.  We need growth and contribution—even though this is not always possible, Longfellow observed: “Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear.”  This reminds me of John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach, who said:  “Nowadays my bad knees and bad hips make it difficult to walk very far or to stand for very long…even at 94, I want to be the best I can be, and hard work is the only way to make this happen.”


Seniors enrich our lives in so many ways.  As a nursing home administrator, I loved to talk with the residents about their lives.  One resident’s father had been a Confederate soldier in the Civil War.  Another had come with his family from Russia and entered the United States through Ellis Island.  Later, they homesteaded 160 acres in American Falls.  Next time you’re with a Senior, take the time to ask him or her about their life.


Wishing you and your family a Christmas Season filled with peace, love and joy.


Tom Packer is an Elder Care Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho.